New parents and parents-to-be hear the same warnings from their friends and family all the time. Get as much as sleep as you can now, because you won’t be getting any once the baby arrives. You can say goodbye to your sex life too. And let’s not forget just how much babies cost these days. Diapers don’t grow on trees and the little one could literally poop you out of house and home.
And while these sage words of “wisdom” are rooted in some grain of truth, they do tend to blow things out of proportion. Of course, I’m only speaking from the perspective of being a dad for a few short months, but I have found that little baby Adalynn hasn’t been as overwhelmingly expensive as we had anticipated.
Big Ticket Items with Big Price Tags
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are certain items that will cost quite the pretty penny. We learned that very quickly when shopping for a stroller and car seat, but we rationalized that we were investing in the comfort and safety of our child. The crib wasn’t exactly cheap either. And while our baby has no trouble making her way through a box of diapers or outgrowing her clothes faster than we can replace them, total expenses haven’t been all that crippling.
We don’t keep a monthly budget in our household. What we do is track every last dollar that we spend, roughly breaking those expenses down into a few broad categories like “groceries” and “transportation.” And comparing our typical monthly expenditure in our childless days against now that we’ve engulfed ourselves in the world of babies, we’re actually spending less money now.
The Little Things Make All the Difference
From what I can gather, this can be explained a few different ways. First, we had received a fair bit of stuff as gifts. We got the the Sleep Sheep as a baby shower present, for example. And while we have had to purchase more diapers (so many diapers…), we haven’t yet had to purchase any more baby wipes nor have we had to “invest” in any additional refills for the Diaper Genie. The Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) doesn’t hurt either.
Realistically, this financial phenomenon can be attributed to a single, simple fact: we just don’t go anywhere or do anything anymore. While I wouldn’t say that we ate out a lot, watched a lot of movies or went to a lot of concerts in our pre-baby days, we have certainly cut down on that part of our lives substantially with Adalynn’s arrival. We indulged in just one Dine Out Vancouver dinner this year. In the past, we’d usually go to about three or four.
If nothing else, this clearly demonstrates what has come to be known as the latte effect. Remove the occasional take-out lunch, take away the infrequent Starbucks frapp, forget about the cheap movie night and suddenly you’ve saved a good chunk of change that month… change that has now been spent on inexpensive baby clothing (most of Adalynn’s clothes are less than $5 with a lot in the $2 to $3 range), burp cloths and diapers.
Maturation and Milestones
Of course, our financial situation will continue to change as our little one gets older, begins school, and starts to require increasingly expensive toys, clothes and supplies. Things will change again when Susanne’s maternity leave ends and I’m sure that will have an impact on my productivity as a work-at-home father and entrepreneur. For the time being, though, I think we’re doing alright.